To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will accept the offer from the European Union to extend the length of the regional programmes to allow them to benefit during the current recession.
Late last year, the European Commission offered member states the possibility of extending the 2000-06 programmes for a further six months until June 2009. The offer did not mean that there was any new money being offered by the EC. It was simply an offer of more time for those projects that had slipped against the previously planned schedule or those that had capacity to continue spending to produce additional outputs. There was little additional flexibility and it would have been unlikely that any new projects could be commissioned that met the requirements of the programmes and delivered in the timeframe available. The European Commission recently offered us the opportunity to review this decision. We have done so carefully but there remains no advantage in England accepting this.